Sustainable gardening is on the increase both in rural areas and in town. In a recent survey, the Office for National Statistics found that almost 80 per cent of the UK population is based in urban areas, highlighting the importance of city gardening. And given that UK food price inflation far exceeds that of the rest of the EU, the lifestyle benefits of organic and eco-friendly gardening are not to be underestimated. But for those who want to begin their own organic garden, getting started can be daunting.
So where do you go for help? While there are thousands of gardening sites out there, many advocate pesticides while others are just plain useless. To help out, we’ve rounded up the best blogs on the web, whether you’re growing your own fruit and vegetables or simply want a stunning place for a summer BBQ.
Friends of Abbey Gardens
On the Blog: Abbey Gardens is a community-run garden in Stratford, London. Growing both vegetables and flowers, the garden provides the local area with a welcome splash of colour and a habitat for urban wildlife. Making the most of the land around the ruins of the 12th century Longthorn Abbey, the garden hosts public events and has started an honesty box scheme to sell its organic produce. You won’t find much in the way of tips on the site, but for inspiration, it’s second to none. If you want to get involved or learn more about organic gardening, Friends of Abbey Gardens will be running Gardening Club sessions from early Spring. Call Dasha on 07815776385 for more information.
Read it: www.abbeygardens.org
On the Blog: Turning ‘six acres of concrete and overgrown and crowded trees’ into a beautiful sustainable garden might sound like a big ask, but that’s exactly what Nottinghamshire blogger, Rob, has achieved. Covering everything from the best ways to dig up concrete to encouraging local bees, Sustainable Garden has plenty for everyone. The best part is the recipe section, which features plenty of home grown veg. With tips and photos galore, Sustainable Garden is great in a horticulture crisis.
Read it: www.sustainablegarden.blogspot.com
On the Blog: If you like a bit of art with your tomatoes, then Avant-Gardening could be the blog for you. Avant-Gardening doesn’t have a garden of its own; instead it’s a community project that takes its green fingers to schools, social clubs and community gardens throughout London, and encourages people to get involved with sustainable gardening. A typical example is the 'Growing Stories' project, which gets entrants to create a story about living on an urban green patch. This story is then printed onto newspaper and turned into a biodegradable pot, in which the participants plant their own seed or cutting, thus planting the story as well as the seed.
Read it: www.avantgardening.org
On the Blog: Growing your own clothes might sound a little outlandish but that’s exactly what blogger, Katelyn Toth-Fejel, does. Well almost. The Permacouture Institute is a not-for-profit organisation, which takes a closer look at sustainable textiles such as flax and cotton, as well as plants such as red cabbages and woad that can be used as dyes. A fascinating account of the Permacouture Institute’s work, it also has lots of useful information should you decide to banish the Dylon and dye your clothes in a 100 per cent natural way.
Read it: www.permacouturepress.tumblr.com
Cold Climate Gardening
On the Blog: Run by veteran American blogger, Kathy Purdy, Cold Climate Gardening is a must-read for anyone finding the UK’s miserable weather a serious hindrance. From plants that can handle regular deluges of rain to weeding when the mercury doesn’t even make it past zero, the tidbits, insights and good advice make Purdy’s blog an invaluable gardening tool.
Read it: www.coldclimategardening.com
On the Blog: Declaring war on neglect and ugliness in public spaces, Richard Reynolds aka the Guerrilla Gardner, has set about transforming London’s squares, roundabouts and roadsides with the help of a volunteer ‘army’ of gardeners. Whether it’s mulching a ‘pimped’ tree pavement pit or planting tulips on a neglected island in the middle of a Borough street, Reynolds is on a mission to brighten up Britain’s capital. If you want to get involved in a spot of guerrilla gardening, the site helps you to locate your local ‘cell’ or if there isn’t one in your area, provides practical advice on starting your own.
Read it: www.guerrillagardening.org
The London Vegetable Garden
On the Blog: Despite the title, the blog isn't just for capital-dwellers. The story behind the account reflects a sentiment felt by many urbanites, frustrated by the lack of a garden. For blogger, Calum, the solution was to transform his balcony into a vegetable patch and The London Vegetable Garden is the frequently hilarious account of how he did it. If you’re a frustrated wannabe gardener with next to no space, The London Vegetable Garden will give you plenty of food for thought.
Read it: www.londonvegetablegarden.blogspot.com
On the Blog: Seasonal Wisdom is a great blog from the USA that specialises in, surprise surprise, seasonal gardening. Despite blogger Theresa O’Connor’s penchant for stating the obvious, Seasonal Wisdom is packed with a wealth of information on what to plant and when. O’ Connor is also good on dealing with garden recycling and flags up all sorts of weird and wonderful ‘heirloom’ varieties of vegetable including ‘Aunt Ruby’s German Green Tomatoes’ and the fiery-sounding ‘Dragon’s Tongue Beans.’
Read it: www.seasonalwisdom.com
On the Blog: A far cry from your average community park, Kensington’s Rooftop Gardens are proof that city gardening in unique spaces is possible. The brainchild of businessman, Trevor Bowen and landscape architect, Ralph Hancock, the Rooftop Gardens are located 100 feet above Kensington High Street and make grandiose use of limited space. Highlights include the Spanish Garden, based on the one at Granada’s Alhambra palace, and the only woodland in the UK to be found on a rooftop. The gardens are also home to four flamingos, Bill, Ben, Splosh and Pecks, and a small flock of ducks. If you need inspiration for your rooftop garden or just a place to relax, this is the garden for you.
Read it: www.roofgardens.virgin.com
Kiss My Aster
On the Blog: Taking its cues from fashion blogs such as the Man Repeller, blogger Amanda Thomsen does glam gardening with a heavy dose of humour. While it’s not one for hardcore horticulture enthusiasts, it’s perfect for anyone for whom gardening is a means to a very pretty end. It’s got plenty of witty extras to enjoy too. Our favourite is 'The Completely Horticultural 'Name That Baby' Contest!’ which offers bonus points to anyone who manages to dream up both first and middle names. From Frasier Fir to Daisy Vermiculture and Moss Zone 5, all are hilarious.
Read it: www.kissmyaster.blogspot.com
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